Cancer patients, nearly a quarter of them are beginning to lose faith in the National Health Survey (NHS) as they are forced to visit their General Physician at least three times before they are referred for diagnostic tests.
Cancer Research UK scientists from University College London and the University of Cambridge say that many cancer patients are dissatisfied by their care and are losing confidence in doctors and nurses who go on to treat them.
AdvertisementResearchers studied data from 70,000 patients and found that out of the 60,000 people who were diagnosed through their GP, nearly 13,300 had been seen three or more times before they were referred for cancer tests.
Nearly one in five were dissatisfied with how medical staff broke the news that they had cancer. 40 percent were also unhappy with the communication between hospital staff and their GP. More than one in 10 felt that information had been deliberately withheld from them during their treatment, while 32 percent said they lacked confidence and trust in ward nurses.
"This research shows that first impressions go a long way in determining how cancer patients view their experience of cancer treatment," said study author Dr Georgios Lyratzopoulos from UCL.
"Last month the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said it would issue family doctors with a checklist of symptoms to help them spot cancer for the first time in a bid to prevent at least half of needless deaths."
Doctors have been told they must fast-track patients with signs like tiredness or unexplained bruises for urgent tests within 48 hours.
Dr Richard Roope, Cancer Research UK's GP expert, said: "It's important we now step up efforts to ensure potential cancer symptoms can be investigated promptly, such as through the new NICE referral guidelines launched last month to give GPs more freedom to quickly refer patients with worrying symptoms."
Almost half of cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when treatment is less likely to work.
Sara Hiom, Director of early diagnosis at Cancer Research UK, added: "This is the first time we've had direct feedback from patients on such a large scale to show how the timeliness of their diagnosis colors their experience of the care they later receive."
"It's another good reason to highlight the importance of diagnosing cancer as quickly as possible, not just to give patients the best chances of survival, but also to improve their experience of the care they receive throughout their cancer journey."
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